FG Eyes Transition of NRC Locomotives to LNG-CNG for Sustainability Boost

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The Federal Government, under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation, is contemplating a shift in the fuel source for Nigerian Railway Corporation’s (NRC) locomotives from diesel to the more cost-effective and readily available LNG-CNG (liquefied natural gas-compressed natural gas). This move aims to enhance sustainability and cost-efficiency within the railway sector.

This development emerged following a proposal presented by the De-Sadel consortium to the Ministry of Transportation, represented by Minister Saidu Alkali, and the NRC. The proposal suggests the adoption of gas as an alternative fuel for railway locomotives, aiming to replace the comparatively expensive diesel. This proposition, detailed in a statement released on the Ministry’s website, outlines De-Sadel’s commitment to retrofit NRC’s locomotives with LNG-CNG kits at no expense to the government. Additionally, the consortium pledges to replace any locomotive in the event of damage, a provision deemed reasonable by Minister Alkali.

Upon receiving the proposal, Minister Alkali instructed the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Olufemi Oloruntola, to expedite the formation of a technical committee tasked with assessing the feasibility of transitioning to LNG-CNG fuel for NRC locomotives. The committee, comprised of seven mechanical engineers from the Ministry of Transportation, NRC, and the De-Sadel Consortium, was tasked with conducting a rapid evaluation of the proposal’s technical viability and formulating an implementation strategy, including the preparation of an NRC locomotive for testing.

In an update provided by the Ministry, it was revealed that the seven-member technical committee has completed its assessment and confirmed the feasibility of converting NRC locomotives to LNG-CNG fuel. This affirmation came following an inspection of the locomotive models at the NRC’s workshop in Idu, Abuja, on March 13, 2024.

Sam Uko, Managing Director of De-Sadel Consortium, elaborated on the proposal, highlighting the consortium’s expertise in transitioning diesel engines to LNG-CNG systems. He underscored the benefits of this technology for NRC, particularly in terms of cost savings and engine longevity. Additionally, Uko assured the availability of a steady gas supply for five years and emphasized that retrofitting involves adapting existing engines for dual-fuel capability without fundamental modification.

Furthermore, De-Sadel proposed to enhance railway security infrastructure along rail corridors to deter vandalism and attacks, thereby supporting uninterrupted train services and increasing NRC’s revenue through improved fuel efficiency and enhanced safety protocols.

If approved, Minister Alkali outlined a phased approach to the locomotives’ fuel mix, beginning with an equal blend of diesel and gas, progressing to 30% diesel and 70% gas, and ultimately transitioning entirely to gas-powered locomotives.

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